As difficult as it might be to accept, everything that makes us feel anxious, angry, guilty, upset, or enraged invites the question: “What am I making it mean?”
Whereas it’s up to us to make meaning of the anxiety that we feel, it’s important to realize that meaning-making involves thoughts and beliefs that cause how we feel.
Depending on how our thinking evolved over the course of our life, our mind has a default thought process when circumstances arise.
We each evolve with our own individuals mental default that’s either positive or negative, or filled with possibilities or empty with impossibilities.
For example, “Why me?” might be your default thought no matter if a driver cuts you off, your burger slides off your paper plate, you get audited by the IRS, or your beloved rides off into the sunset.
Or, your mind might default to, “I’m human, worthy, and enough,” whether you miss a payment, a meeting, a birthday, or your mouth…What? You’ve never worn your food or drink?
Nonetheless, cultivating an intentional process for making meaning out of circumstances is a useful way to come to know our mind, how our thinking causes are feelings, and seeing clearly how our feelings drive the actions we take, or don’t take.
The most effective way for me to make meaning of the circumstances that I encounter is journaling.
Every morning, I spend about 10-15 minutes, coffee in hand, putting pen to paper in a stream of consciousness writing.
I don’t edit, fuss with spelling, or censor one word that flows through my pen; I simply empty my mind, honestly.
No matter what flows from my mind through my pen, I always feel more settled, clear, and calm after.
Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages is a beautiful method of stream of consciousness writing that she invites us to commit to doing every morning.
I usually do several days of stream of consciousness writing before I dive deeper into meaning-making.
I’ll notice themes in my morning pages, such as resentment, resistance, and one of my defaults, victim.
Once I notice themes, I identify specific thoughts feeding the theme that I then unpack, question, and really analyze, truthfully.
I question the accuracy of my thoughts by asking powerful questions such as, “Are these thoughts true?” and “Why am I thinking these thoughts?” and my favorite powerful question, “What am I making these thoughts mean?”
These are not necessarily comfortable questions to ponder and yet, I’ve come to trust these guiding questions in my own ongoing mental and emotional evolution.
See, it’s through the process of questioning our thinking that we find the deeper meaning behind of our anxiety, which is always a thought.
And, all thoughts are optional.
So give yourself permission to do a little stream of consciousness writing and simply notice.
Feel free to share what you discover in the comments below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.